Consumer created content is also playing a larger role in advergaming. In our own projects I’ve seen up to 60% of the engagement time with a branded game focused on the act of creation — whether it’s building a custom car to race, creating a character that will perform a striptease or building an entire series of levels for a world. In the latter case, what we also see is an incredible proliferation of new content on the sites. Giving consumers the tools to create content is one of the silver bullets in interactive.
But what’s the measurable value to the brand? Relating to in-game advertising, Nielsen Entertainment and Activision released a report measuring the key metrics that brand advertising is chasing after – things like recall and purchase intent – and saw that the numbers for in-game advertising matched what can be expected from television spots. Intuitively, we know that an advergame that’s drawing long periods of engagement is going to produce the same results, but what these numbers are not taking into account is the level of brand engagement that advergames can deliver.
Without a true metric or value for engagement, which the Advertising Research Foundation is working on, the value of increased engagement time with the brand is fuzzy, but still very positive. We’ve seen a direct correlation between time spent with a game and purchase intent (measured by click through to buy a product). In that sense, the thirty-second spot can never deliver the same limitless and scalable interaction time.
What advergaming is really showing us is that the web is becoming an advertising medium that “jumps the curve” experientially. Print is static. TV is linear. Advergaming is interactive video meets consumer created content meets 3D explorable worlds meets social communication. As the technology continues to evolve, budgets are increasingly the only limit on creativity.
At the end of the day, advergaming is not about gaming — at least, not in the traditional sense. Rather, it is the gateway to creative thinking for online branded entertainment. There isn’t always going to be a high score, or an opponent to beat. It’s the breakthrough of real interactive and entertaining experiences, storytelling and consumer creation — not flashing banners and pretty splash pages — that will drive online creative into the next decade.